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National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) Launches Pioneering Direct Entry Scheme


Direct Entry Scheme Launches 03 April 2023

The scheme will enable those with proven leadership skills, from a variety of sectors, to apply for Station Manager roles without needing to have fire service experience or without needing to have taken the traditional firefighter promotional route.

A recruitment campaign is underway through the appointed recruitment experts at Reed Specialist Recruitment Ltd.

Those recruited to the roles will be expected to acquire, develop, and demonstrate skills and expertise in management and command functions, as set out for their role in the nationally agreed applicable role maps.

We are delighted the Fire Service College will partner with the NFCC and early adopting Direct Entrant fire & rescue services to deliver the training programme.

Although direct entry is not a new concept, it is the first time there has been a national, robust, and quality-assured direct entry programme and process.

The primary aim of the scheme is to provide a different route to entry into the role of Station Manager, alongside the more traditional firefighter route, that can play a valuable part in diversifying leadership in fire and rescue services.

Seven fire and rescue services from across the UK have signed up to join the pioneering pilot to self-fund a direct entrant. Those services are East Sussex FRS, Staffordshire FRS, Oxfordshire FRS, Shropshire FRS, Avon FRS, Leicestershire FRS, and North Wales FRS.

These are all services that put public service and inclusivity at the forefront of their thinking; seeing the two as being inextricably linked.

Direct Entry Project Executive Rob Barber said: “We hope that the scheme will draw new perspectives and experiences from the brightest and best who might not ordinarily have seen a career in the fire and rescue service as being open or attractive to them.

“Being a Fire Officer is a tough job at times, but it is a hugely rewarding one. I am excited to see who puts themselves forward for this fantastic opportunity.

“The response from services wishing to be “early adopters” has been encouraging and I am confident we will be able to offer a compelling proposition to candidates from across the whole of the UK.”

Dawn Whittaker, Direct Entry Project Executive said: “Many of the leadership skills required to run a modern FRS are not dissimilar to those required in other sectors, with people, financial, partnership and commercial skills at the fore.

“By diversifying those in our more senior roles we can invest in the future of our sector, and those already involved in the scheme are doing just that.”

Services will benefit immediately from the skills and experience of proven leaders from other sectors as they build their operational competence.

The scheme is designed to be both additional and complementary to existing progression routes within the sector, complying with all existing terms and conditions, but doing it in a new and innovative way.

The project was launched to address some of the recommendations made in the HMICFRS State of Fire Report, which stated: “To provide the best possible response to the public, services need to be able to choose from the widest talent pool possible. That pool is currently restricted, with many people feeling excluded.”

The recent Government White Paper endorsed the work of the project, stating: “The NFCC Leadership hub is leading a project on direct entry schemes at Station level, as well as developing a coaching and talent-focused culture. This is a welcome development and should be supported by all services.”

Since its inception in 2020, the project team has engaged widely with stakeholders and has carried out a stakeholder consultation in 2021 to understand any barriers to success. There should be an assurance that the Direct Entry Project Board has a credible, quality-assured product for the fire sector, developed in conjunction with fire and rescue services.

Direct Entry is just one of a number of projects being delivered by NFCC’s Leadership Programme, underpinned by the FRS Core Code of Ethics, supporting FRS staff to move through their careers at a pace that suits them. This includes a Coaching and Mentoring Portal, Talent Management Framework, as well as a Supervisory Leadership Development Programme. Further products to be launched include a Middle Leadership Programme, due to launch in April 2024.

Watch a short video showing what life as a Station Manager involves.

Direct Entry: Station Manager - YouTube

Job role and application for each FRS,

1. Direct Entry Station Manager programme, East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (

2. Direct Entry Programme, Station Manager, Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service (

3. Direct Entry Programme, Station Manager, Avon Fire & Rescue Service (

4. Direct Entry Programme, Station Manager, Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service (

5. Direct Entry Programme, Station Manager, North Wales Fire & Rescue Service (

6. Direct Entry Programme, Station Manager, Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue Service (

7. Direct Entry Station Manager programme, Leicestershire Fire & Rescue Service (

For further information about the project, contact the Leadership Programme project team, at:

Questions relating to the recruitment process can be directed to Reed, at:

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